Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘yoga’

Cairn - Bald Mountain Adirondacks

A cairn marking the peak of Bald Mountain, Adirondacks

Do you feel a little off-balance today? I have and it is an uncomfortable feeling. For me today, it is a little off-balance emotionally instead of physically, but it’s still enough to throw my gait off.

However, I was lucky enough to have had my body work massage already scheduled for today and that has me feeling much better at this later time in the day.

My physical body is undergoing a slow,  long-term weight loss pattern too so there is actually a constant rebalancing going on. Yoga and Poolates helps a lot with that.

Last Saturday, I invited my Yoga Class and Poolates class over for a little open-house gathering and I told them to bring a rock! And we were going to be talking about balance – the grace of it and the lack of it.

Tom and I collected rocks from around our property and washed them off to get them ready for the party.

We were going to experience balance through building cairns.

The attendees brought their rocks too.

Cairn  - Switzerland

A cairn to mark the summit of a mountain in Switzerland

A cairn is a man-made pile (or stack) of stones. It comes from the Scottish Gaelic càrn (plural càirn). Cairns are found all over the world  particularly on mountaintops, near waterways, and on sea cliffs. They also appear in barren desert and tundra areas. They also mark graves.

Cairn British mass grave South Africa

One of many cairns marking British mass graves in South Africa

They vary in size from small stone markers to entire artificial hills, and in complexity from loose, conical rock piles to delicately balanced sculptures and elaborate feats of megalithic engineering. Cairns may be painted or otherwise decorated, e.g. for increased visibility or for religious reasons.

So on Saturday afternoon, we were not shy at trying our “magalithic engineering” skills right in the middle of our living room.

DSCN0120

Julius goes first and gets it going. Wife, Leslie holds the vibration for the growing tower.

DSCN0124

The rocks are the star of the party and soon many creations build upwards into the stilled, quieted room filled with concentration and focus.

DSCN0122

Chris builds the beginning base strength of her cairn.

DSCN0123

Sandy builds several cairns of fascinating and balanced structure. They soared high before reaching the collapsing addition of “just one more rock will fit right in here” challenge.

I was working with a new camera and sometimes just missed the best height of a cairn before it crumbled. But some stood too.

DSCN0126

Sharon approached her champion cairn with the utmost of respect and “due diligence”.

DSCN0130

Also note that the cracker plate “cairn” is nicely balancing as long as the stone cairn stands!

“So,” someone asked me, “what does this have to do with balance and calm and becoming serene when we are just hoping like heck, the next rock doesn’t topple our cairn?”

“Good question,” I reply.  “How do you keep balance in your life, what helps it, what goes against it, what makes you become unbalanced, and what happens when you are out of balance, ” thinking this would be the start of a rewarding introspective conversation.

“When I’m out of balance, I fall down,” comes the plain and simple answer, and not much more discussion beyond that. Only laughter and agreement. They go back to building their cairn.

I found that joyful. And I know that a committed practice to both Yoga and Poolates helps me immensely to staying more balanced in my daily life with only a few stumbles here and there.

That’s encouraging. The afternoon came, it seemed, to a quick end and guests were soon on their way. It was a balancing afternoon of friendship and good will…..adding a little more balance to a world rocked with unbalancing acts like the one that would two days later occur at the Boston Marathon.

Life is like a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving.” Albert Einstein.

So divinely is the world organized that every one of us, in our place and time, is in balance with everything else.” Adam Acone.

Note: Photos of worldwide cairns were Wikipedia photos released to the public domain.

Read Full Post »

Ida Herbert- worlds oldest yoga teacher

I just turned 70 and I’m glad I saw this to know I have lots of years of yoga ahead of me. Look at the sparkle in Ida’s smiling eyes! This article was found on my Facebook. Note about the author, Cat O’Connor, below.

The World’s Oldest Yoga Teacher

Ida Herbert was recently recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s oldest yoga teacher. She’s 96.
I had the pleasure and privilege of getting to know her at a weekend yoga retreat where we both offered and received asana practice.
Although I had seen Ida at our local YMCA, where she volunteered for many years, I’d never spent much time with her or been to one of her classes.
What an inspiration!
At 96, this woman has more brightness, vigor and flexibility than many women a fraction of her age.
Her class was challenging (my abs got a workout from the multiple navasana and raised leg climbs!) and funny (many of us had tears rolling down our faces from her well-timed and quick humor). It was also amazing to experience her as a human being, full of kindness, grace and contentment.
She began our evening “gentle yoga” practice standing at the front of her mat in Tadasana. We continued through various heart opening standing poses. As she moved into the balancing posture of Tree, she swayed a little and both feet came back to the mat.
“Listen,” she said, smiling, “I’m 96 years old, I deserve to stumble a little!”
The retreat fell on Remembrance Day here in Canada, and so, on the 11th month, on the 11th day, at the 11th hour we came together in the great room of the center to share a moment of silence and reflection while watching the presentation on TV, which panned in and out on various faces of veterans in attendance.
Ida, with her small, yet strong frame was the closest to the TV and might have been standing the proudest. I couldn’t help but wonder about all that this woman has seen over her 96 years and felt touched to be able to share this moment with her.
Afterward, I asked if she’d lost loved ones in past wars – she said that she had not, however, her late husband had been a prisoner of war and she had been impacted in many ways by the various degrees of conflict through which she had lived.
In that moment, I was reminded of just how much we have to learn from the generations before and after us, and the importance of taking time to reach out to people of all ages and from all walks of life, as this is where true wisdom and connection lies.
Ida, through her yoga practice and in her overall demeanor demonstrated a level of calm, grace and vitality that affected everyone at the retreat this past weekend.
She is a living example of the power of yoga. With a quick wit and gentle, broad smile, she brought a sense of joy to the room whenever she entered.
When asked to what she attributes her longevity, she replied with a twinkle in her eye. “Yoga and never having had children… oh, and fish oil!”
And so, while my children might cause me to grow old a little faster (I think they’re worth it), I will continue to devote myself to my yoga practice and just might boost my daily intake of fish oil…
If I can share my yoga practice with others at the wonderfully vibrant age of 96, as Ida does now, it will be a gift, not only to me but to those around me.
Ida closed the practice by limberly moving into sukhasana and sharing the following words:
“Cup your hands in your lap. Inhaling, raise them up to the sky and make a wish. Now catch that wish. I hope for you to catch joy, laughter, kindness, compassion and peace. Now draw the hands down to your heart and allow this wish to fill your heart and whole being. Namaste.”
Thank you Ida, for inspiring those around you and shining your beautiful light.
Published November 24, 2012 at 10:26 AM

About Cat O’Connor

Cat O’Connor – Student of Yoga, writing, motherhood, and life. Cat says ‘Some say, the best way to learn, is to teach and so I’m also dipping my toes into the yoga instructor experience, hoping to make yoga accessible to everyone that I can. Namaste.’
Twitter: @YogaCat4life

Website: www.yogainmotion.ca 

Read Full Post »

 

This is another repost – this time from a little past mid-2011. This is a post that is read fairly frequently, so I pulled it up to read it again myself. I am glad I did.

I am still a member of the Gentle Yoga class, in which I was so uncomfortable when I first began. Now, I feel I AM a member of this group, and miss it on occasion when I do not make the scheduled Monday or Friday class.  Now, in 2012, I respond truly more gently to the flow of the Downfacing Dog, and the Warrior Poses, and the Triangles, and balancing poses. And my whole body “flows” much more openly as I leave class to travel into my day.

I have also lost some of the heaviness I described as having in 2011. During the past year, I found a comfortable, gentle way of eating and nutrition that allowed for the loss of 40 pounds — a new lightness I welcome into the new year.  I see both the weight loss and the yoga accompanying me on new paths and continuing health and harmony.

Gentle Warrior

August 27, 2011 by napkinwriter | Edit

Exalted Warrior

I found Abby Lenz on the internet today at http://www.heavyweightyoga.com/2011/03/39-years-of-yoga/ . In talking about her beginning youth experience with yoga over thirty-nine years ago, immediately falling in love with it, and being able to do any pose imaginable, she says she is now….”older, heavier and much wiser.”  She says and teaches what she knows being on the mat is all about in her Austin, Texas classes.

She says it is never about the poses, it is rather about where they lead you. She  does not measures success by how triuphant you look and feel on the mat. Success, she says, is really about just showing up and doing your best for that day.

I, too, am older, heavier and somewhat wiser at the age of sixty-eight. Today, I did not show up on the mat at class. I wasn’t feeling triumphant about anything in particular and I put myself on yoga class vacation for this Friday.

I will start again on Monday, or most likely with some pauses for home poses, balance and breathing over the weekend to remind myself that my true self doesn’t really want or need a vacation from yoga.

I love that I have discovered some of the richness of yoga in my own life. I am in touch with the true energy within my body, how it can be stirred, awakened, unclogged, and make me feel as though I am “streaming” with my own body instead of pulling and pushing it around.

I love how I hear Petra’s voice in my daily life and how the flow of yoga, even off the mat, finds meaning in my day. When I began yoga, late in life (unless I live unusually long), I was concerned mostly about my physical “bigness” and remembered the Beatles’ early 1960s introduction of yoga and swami’s into Western culture. I surely thought it was a no-no for me, a cradle Catholic and Republican, trying to go Democrat.

When I started, I was uncomfortable standing in mountain pose for any length of time and thought surely this would be a short experience. I came to “land yoga” through my water class of fused Poolates-Yoga. I loved feeling the poses, supported by the water, and the instructor encouraged me to try the gentle yoga class at the health center. I am glad she did.

Over time, and with the effort to do the best I could (like the 4th Agreement of Ruiz I have been writing about), I came to feel a genuine part of the class, if a stumbling one at times. Sometimes my motivation to get through the poses and balance and stretches was that I knew Shivasana, the peaceful quiet, awaited me at the end of class. I could hold on.

I remember about breath being the most important thing. Even though I knew that to be true, I suspect that it is being on the yoga mat that brings it home to me when I need it in my daily experience.

Once I had to leave the class for a bathroom break. When I returned through the door in the front of the class, they were all in a Warrior II, opened toward me and gazing forward. I started to return to my place, but was actually stopped by the palatable positive energy flowing  toward me from the group. It was an amazing and respectful feeling and I stood for awhile to soak it in and enjoy it before threading my way back to my mat.

My own self-described Energy Identity I’ve had for some time now is: Sue, Truth Seeker, Peace Maker, Love Giver. My Life Statement is: “Her ways are ways of gentleness and all her paths are peace.”

I am gentle warrior, learning to forge my path and respect the paths of others. I do not know if there is a gentle warrior yoga pose.

 

Read Full Post »

SingingTree_Spotlight

Christmas! It’s a great season for music. Music is tea for the soul. With grandchildren, all of whom are performing artists, ages from pre-school through high school, Tom and I attend lots of musical feasts during the month of December. So music, to us, is even more than tea — it is the second helping of dessert.

But you don’t have to be an artist to sing. I am reminded of the Sesame Street song:

Sing, sing out loud, sing out strong
Sing of good things, not bad;
Sing of happy, not sad.

Don’t worry if you’re not good enough
for anyone else to hear,

Just sing, sing a song!

In a recent Yoga magazine publication, Scott Bakal suggests singing when you feel as though your heart is locked up by sorrow. He says modern bhakti masters offer ways to exercise the muscles of love and fill your heart to overflowing.

In bhakti yoga, says master Jai Uttal, music is medicine. Singing a mantra, a hymn, or the name of a spiritual guide is another way to treat an aching heart.

“You can sing kirtan sweetly, or sing them fiercely with angst, or sing them with a yearning or whatever emotions are arising in you.”

Keep on singing, even if you get bored, he advises. “Sing until the singing itself becomes part of your molecules, and your heart flows into the ocean of divine love.”

Sing all by yourself, in the shower, in the car, or in the garden — anytime you want to feel uplifted.

Not to worry about what your voice sounds like — kirtan is about filling your heart with love, not about being a great singer, says Bakal.

“No matter our accents, our ability to carry a tune, or our musical aesthetic,” says Uttal, ‘when we sing kirtan, we are awakening our hearts and healing old traumas.”

I’m wondering about holding my warrior poses and bursting out with “Santa Claus is Coming to Town”, in Friday’s class.

Read Full Post »

Exalted Warrior

I found Abby Lenz on the internet today at http://www.heavyweightyoga.com/2011/03/39-years-of-yoga/ . In talking about her beginning youth experience with yoga over thirty-nine years ago, immediately falling in love with it, and being able to do any pose imaginable, she says she is now….”older, heavier and much wiser.”  She says and teaches what she knows being on the mat is all about in her Austin, Texas classes.

She says it is never about the poses, it is rather about where they lead you. She  does not measures success by how triuphant you look and feel on the mat. Success, she says, is really about just showing up and doing your best for that day.

I, too, am older, heavier and somewhat wiser at the age of sixty-eight. Today, I did not show up on the mat at class. I wasn’t feeling triumphant about anything in particular and I put myself on yoga class vacation for this Friday.

I will start again on Monday, or most likely with some pauses for home poses, balance and breathing over the weekend to remind myself that my true self doesn’t really want or need a vacation from yoga.

I love that I have discovered some of the richness of yoga in my own life. I am in touch with the true energy within my body, how it can be stirred, awakened, unclogged, and make me feel as though I am “streaming” with my own body instead of pulling and pushing it around.

I love how I hear Petra’s voice in my daily life and how the flow of yoga, even off the mat, finds meaning in my day. When I began yoga, late in life (unless I live unusually long), I was concerned mostly about my physical “bigness” and remembered the Beatles’ early 1960s introduction of yoga and swami’s into Western culture. I surely thought it was a no-no for me, a cradle Catholic and Republican, trying to go Democrat.

When I started, I was uncomfortable standing in mountain pose for any length of time and thought surely this would be a short experience. I came to “land yoga” through my water class of fused Poolates-Yoga. I loved feeling the poses, supported by the water, and the instructor encouraged me to try the gentle yoga class at the health center. I am glad she did.

Over time, and with the effort to do the best I could (like the 4th Agreement of Ruiz I have been writing about), I came to feel a genuine part of the class, if a stumbling one at times. Sometimes my motivation to get through the poses and balance and stretches was that I knew Shivasana, the peaceful quiet, awaited me at the end of class. I could hold on.

I remember about breath being the most important thing. Even though I knew that to be true, I suspect that it is being on the yoga mat that brings it home to me when I need it in my daily experience.

Once I had to leave the class for a bathroom break. When I returned through the door in the front of the class, they were all in a Warrior II, opened toward me and gazing forward. I started to return to my place, but was actually stopped by the palatable positive energy flowing  toward me from the group. It was an amazing and respectful feeling and I stood for awhile to soak it in and enjoy it before threading my way back to my mat.

My own self-described Energy Identity I’ve had for some time now is: Sue, Truth Seeker, Peace Maker, Love Giver. My Life Statement is: “Her ways are ways of gentleness and all her paths are peace.”

I am gentle warrior, learning to forge my path and respect the paths of others. I do not know if there is a gentle warrior yoga pose.

Read Full Post »